This is probably the most significant Xenix post I’ve made since the old days when I managed to get Xenix running in Qemu all those years ago.
What has long been a frustration with the beleaguered Xenix community is that although there was a TCP/IP package for Xenix (and a much required streams package…) it only worked with a handful of ethernet cards. And all of them were early 3com’s. While the world was using NE2000’s on just about everything, the most common ethernet board Xenix would talk to was the 3c503, which is getting harder and harder to find as the years go on by.
But right now none of this matters.
Now I ended up having to download the source to mame 0.151 (mame0151s.zip) and building it on OS X. Of course remembering to alter the makefile to include the ‘USE_NETWORK=1’ statement, and build for Mess. And just as it looks like something out of SIMH, Mess makes use of libpcap which means that you are *unable* to send/receive on the host computer. (OS X & Win32 binaries). And of course you’ll need a ROM & Xenix diskettes.
Installing Xenix is pretty straightforward as long as you know your system key, and how to navigate the mess UI without rebooting mess or exiting by mistake (scrolllock on the PC, function/Delete on OS X).
First create a hard disk, and as always it should be ~500MB max.
chdman.exe createhd -o xenix.chd -chs 1015,16,63
chdman – MAME Compressed Hunks of Data (CHD) manager 0.149u1 (Aug 10 2013)
Output CHD: xenix.chd
Logical size: 523,837,440
then with the disk in hand, I just setup a 486 like this:
./mess64 at486 -harddisk1 xenix.chd -isa2 3c503 -ramsize 8388608 -floppydisk1 xenix/n1.vfd
Naturally you’ll need to setup the CMOS, for your memory size, and the hard disk. The BIOS I’m using didn’t autodetect the IDE drive, but it doesn’t matter as I know it’s characteristics as I created it.
From there Xenix was a pretty straight forward deal. Mess has good floppy drive emulation so it just worked. Adding TCP-IP was just as involved, and all went well. When it came time to install TCP & the network driver, remember to use thinnet, as the thicknet transceiver isn’t connected (as it would seem). The 3c503 is softset, so I went with IRQ 5, port 0x300, and thinnet, and it works fine for me!
Remember you will not be able to attach to it from your computer. Instead you must attach from another computer.
Also MESS tries to emulate true to hardware so it’ll be just as slow on MESS as it was on the real hardware. I suppose you could go with the at386 driver, but yeah it’ll be slow. The current at586 driver has issues booting from the hard disk, and I didn’t mess with it too much as Xenix is known to have issues with some Pentium systems.